Ghostbusters 2022: Ghosts Can't Do It, Part One
From the Files of Dr. Fritz V. Baugh, GBI Historian
GBI Case File GBNY-2022-40/044
In 1983, three unemployed scientists started up the world's first agency of professional paranormal investigators and eliminators. Now, thirty-nine years later, Dr. Johnathan Spengler, Dr. Eden Spengler, Eric Stantz, Marie Lupin, and TJ Anderson hunt strange things in the neighborhood, weird things that don't look good, things running through people's head, and invisible men sleeping in beds as the newest generation of Ghostbusters.
Jones Beach Hotel Sedgewick
Jones Beach, Long Island
Kay Johnson closed the cel phone and sighed. The call from the office was the last thing she really needed-she was here on vacation, after all. She'd planned this trip for almost a year, and that damn office couldn't get by without her. It was reassuring in a way, she supposed, but right now it was damn annoying.
She grunted as she made sure the phone was turned off; No way I'm letting them interrupt this vacation for at least the next hour
She went into the bathroom and tore off the business suit like it was a prison. She turned on the shower, and took a moment to regard her naked body in the mirror. She liked what she saw. All those crunches paid off, Baby...the guys on the beach are gonna be all over you.
She realized she'd forgotten to unpack her shampoo bottle, but she noticed the complimentary one marked "Sedgewick Special" sitting by the tub. She shrugged; it was an unusual shade of blue, but she figured it would do the job nicely.
She let the hot water spray on her for a moment, letting the tension and frustrations of her job be washed down the drain. I think Sally's right. I need a boyfriend...I want a boyfriend...making a six-figure salary isn't as much fun without the time to spend it and someone to spend it with...
A fantasy started to play in her mind of a tall, handsome, muscular stranger visiting her in the shower as she squirted some shampoo in her hand, and started to rub it in her scalp. There are lots of hunks on the beaches, you know. Maybe one of them will be worth keeping...
She suddenly paused. This is the weirdest shampoo I've ever seen...it doesn't seem to even be lathering. What...
"Hey, Baby...wanna wrestle?"
Kay Johnson barely had time to scream.
Ghostbusters Omnibus Timeline Year Forty
"Corey Jones dial 310"
Marie Lupin jumped as a Class 5 wearing a tacky shirt threw a box of Cheerios at her. She barely avoided it, and a spray of toasted whole grain oats covered her and the nearby display.
"We found the ghost, JC!" Eric Stantz shouted, nearly being hit with a gallon of milk.
"Great!" John Spengler replied back. "Is Big Joe all right?"
"For the moment!"
The store's PA system broke in. "Corey Jones line 101"
Next to Eric was a fat, balding middle age man wearing a tie. He was huffing and puffing from exhaustion, clearly not used to having to exert himself.
"Corey Jones line 102"
"We got him away from the entity..." Marie explained "But the bogey ain't too happy about it!"
"We're getting set up." TJ Anderson broke in. "Just keep it busy until we're ready!"
"Easy for you to say..." Marie muttered, avoiding a biscuit. "For one thing, all this starch is probably bad for my diet..."
"Corey Jones out for carts, please."
"Corey Jones dial 600"
In the S-Mart's sporting goods department, the other two Ghostbusters were clearing a staging area. "Are you really going to try that thing?" TJ asked, a distinct note of disdain in her voice.
John was fidgeting with his GBX, the device that served as this generation of Ghostbusters' combination PKE Meter and communication device. It had one more intended function, but thus far... "I realigned the containment matrix grid after the last disaster. It should work this time."
"That's what you said last time." TJ rolled her eyes. "And you nearly ended up burning down city hall with it."
"Science is not always a clean and easy road." John said indignantly. Then a grin came to his face. "Care to make a wager?"
"Corey Jones line 103"
" 'Wager'?" TJ blinked. She raised one eyebrow. "What did you have in mind?"
"If it fails, I take over your rotation on garbage duty for the next month. If it works...you let me take you to a movie."
She was silent for a few seconds. "Nothing unduly soppy. The last thing I want is ideas being put into your head. And no special effects schlock fests, either-I deal with enough of that at work."
He rubbed his chin. "The Paul Blart: Mall Cop remake?"
She made a pained face. "I walked right into that one, didn't I?" She sighed. "Acceptable."
"Corey Jones to Layaway"
She pulled out one of the familiar, boxy ghost traps the company had been using for nearly forty years. "That doesn't mean I'm not going to heedlessly disregard a backup plan."
"That referring to the ghost trap, or the date?"
She made an exasperated groan.
"Corey Jones line 104"
"What did you do to this guy, anyway?" Eric asked.
"We wouldn't give him a cash refund." the manager replied.
"Corey Jones line 105"
"Just because they haven't had this shirt since 2010, I didn't have a receipt, and I stole it from Wal-Mart!" the ghost howled. "What kind of a way to run a business is that?"
"Corey Jones to the Service Desk, please."
"Eric! Marie! We're ready in sporting goods!" John's voice called out from their GBXes.
"About time..." Marie muttered. They'd moved into ladieswear, and were now dodging bras and underwear-which, thankfully, tended to be a lot softer than grocery items.
"Corey Jones line 106"
"NOW!" They heard TJ shout as they ran between the bike racks. A beam of charged particles slammed into the ghost.
"About time!" Marie said, unholstering her thrower and joining in.
"I think it's ready!" Eric said after a few seconds.
The ghost was cussing up a blue streak. "From that language, you'd think he used to work here..." Marie quipped.
"Corey Jones to furniture for guest assistance"
TJ stood next to a trap pedal. "Angle it over to the right-the backup trap is right by the fishing poles."
"Backup?" Eric asked. "Oh, man, you mean he's gonna try again?"
"Absolutely." John answered, pointing the top of his GBX at the entity.
"Get ready to duck when it blows up!" Marie shouted.
John ignored her, and pulled back the slide switches at the side of the unit. The top of it began to emit a bright cone of light.
Containment Field Engaged the display read.
"Huh? Wait a minute...what's happening? Where's my refund? I want my money back! Aaaagh!" With that, the ghost was sucked into the cone of light, and disappeared into John's GBX.
"Corey Jones dial 600"
Eric and Marie jumped behind the bike rack, dragging the manager with them. TJ looked hesitant, not sure whether to join them or not.
John stood there, watching the display, a single bead of sweat upon his brow.
After five excruciating seconds, the blinking red light from the display stopped, and a solid green light replaced it.
Containment Stability 100%. Containment Capacity 24%
"PRODIGIOUS!" John shouted, punching the air with his left fist.
"It..it worked?" Eric asked from under cover.
"I told you it would. Eventually." John said, mostly succeeding in not sounding too smug. Mostly.
TJ turned and sighed. "I suppose this means I need to brush up on my Mall Cop etiquette, don't I?"
"Corey Jones to Grocery Aisle 3 with a mop, please"
Marie looked at the manager. "Don't you have anyone besides Corey Jones working here?" The manager looked at her like she was speaking Martian.
"Been doing some shopping, Marie?" John asked.
Marie noticed a lacy brassiere that had somehow become stuck to the ion arm of her proton pack.
"Those are on sale this week!" the manager told her. "Why, I'll even have them take off an additional 10% for saving me from that ghost!"
Marie looked at the bra with a sour look. "I only wear black. Besides..." she tossed it at TJ. "38D is for someone overly topheavy. Probably more your size."
"Erm, um..." TJ said awkwardly, giving the item to the manager.
"Well, next time some spud wants to throw their own Blue Light Special..." Eric told the manager dramatically. "You know who to call!"
The other three Ghostbusters rolled their eyes.
Ghostbusters Central (New York/"Franchise Zero")
An hour later the ECTO-1 replivehicle pulled into the building once known as Hook and Ladder Number Eight.
The four Ghostbusters were greeted by the sight of Client Administrator Jeremy Cranston talking to someone they didn't recognize, while John's fraternal twin sister, Dr. Eden Spengler, was concentrating on her own GBX.
"About time you guys got back." Jeremy said. "This is..."
"Lloyd Bassett, Good Sirs and Madames." the larger man said. "Executive Manager of the Jones Beach Hotel Sedgewick."
The four Ghostbusters shook his hand, and introduced themselves. "And how may we help you today, Mister Bassett?" John said.
"I'm having, as you might say, a problem which I believe to be of a supernatural sort at my Hotel." Bassett answered. "I wish to hire your esteemed organization to deal with it."
"Doesn't GBI have a Franchise in Long Island?" Eric asked Jeremy.
"I"m well aware of that, Good Sir." Bassett nodded. "And believe me, some of the blokes at the Sedgewick company are rather negative about Ghostbusters."
"Well, how many of their rooms has GBI destroyed in their day?" Marie said brightly.
"Irrelevant." Bassett shook his head. "They captured the blasted spirits, and that is the important part. Insurance takes care of the rest anyway." Bassett made a dismissive wave of his hand. "I chose to bring my plight to the home office, as it were, due to the glowing words of my late father. Colonel Floyd Bassett. Had a bit of a problem with a spirit himself back in Aught Seven, and praised the work of your operation."
The exact second Bassett said "Captured the blasted spirits", Slimer appeared. Bassett either didn't notice, or didn't regard a ghost appearing at Ghostbusters Central to be unusual.
The four Ghostbusters looked at each other. "I guess it can't hurt to hear about the problem. Tell us what happened, Mister Bassett." Eric said.
As Eric and TJ listened to Bassett, John went over to his sister. "It worked! It finally worked!"
"So you said when you called and asked me to come over." Eden replied.
"As soon as I get this puppy in the big kennel, I want you to run a full diagnostic check on the software." John said. "Please?"
"Of course." she said. "This really is exciting. It's the first equipment upgrade of our own, and the first major development to any of the gear since we were kids."
John nudged back to the others, as Bassett was continuing the story of Kay Johnson. "The police department looked into it, of course, but between no real signs of foul play, and this horrible blue substance all over the tub which they couldn't identify..."
"You didn't happen to bring any, did you?" Eric asked excitedly.
TJ gave him a dirty look, and Bassett looked aghast. "Of course not!"
"Didn't hurt to ask." Eric shrugged.
"We'll head up there and take a look as soon as we get the equipment prepped and have some lunch." John said.
"I appreciate this far more than mere words can convey, Doctor Spengler." Bassett said with obvious relief.
"So much for an afternoon sitting in front of the boob tube watching hentai." Marie sighed, with mock disappointment.
After a quick meal, the ECTO-1 replivehicle was cruising down Interstate 495. Eric was driving, as he was wont to do; Eden stayed behind at GBCentral, to run the full diagnostic on John's GBX-just to be sure the successful use wasn't sheer luck instead of her brother finally getting the design where it needed to be to be reliable. It didn't stop him from taking another GBX, though-nor did it stop Eric and TJ from packing in a couple of the reliable classic ghost traps.
Marie, bored as she usually was on road trips, spoke up. "Okay...I have a question..."
"And here I am out of cookies." John deadpanned, not looking up from the paperwork he was studying.
"Eric..." Marie said. "It wasn't the first time I thought of this, but I was reminded of it when we were being chased around the grocery department by that Class 5. Back when we fought Amot-Naphemus, you pulped a zombie by snapping your fingers, put that mystic whammy around us that saved Johnny's very nice bacon, and then you zapped the monster at just the right time. I keep thinking a gooper in a Hawaiian shirt shouldn't have been any trouble after that."
Eric sighed, and looked a bit embarrassed. "Well, yeah...It's kinda complicated. You see, as a wizard of the Order of Hermes, I have to follow a code of conduct. There's two parts of it that I have to be the most careful of: one is interference with 'Mundanes', meaning non-wizards..."
"I thought you called us 'Muggles'..." John quipped.
"It was originally written to prohibit court wizards, and to keep the Order out of human politics." Eric continued, ignoring John's quip. "It was expanded by the Grand Tribunal of 1456 to basically keep the Order secret; it used to mean they'd even try to convince everyone in the world that magic and ghosts weren't real, but that's fallen by the wayside since GBI proved the existence of ghosts scientifically." Eric sighed. "Then there's the part about 'Molesting the fae'."
"Some faeries I know don't mind being molested." Marie interjected.
"Do you want me to answer the question or not?" Eric rolled his eyes. After a few seconds of silence, he continued. "Some supernatural entities classify as 'Fae' by the Hermetic model of realm interaction."
"During the Amot-Naphemus crisis, I wasn't an official GBI employee-I could react more like a wizard. Now that I'm officially a GBI member, I have to be a little more careful; I have to be double careful about using any Hermetic powers in public while I'm wearing this uniform. It's the same situation Master Vincent is in at Arcane Division; it's the benefit of his experience, and the fact that my Mom is a Hermetic lawyer, that I know this is the best way to handle it."
"I mean, after all, you notice the press conference didn't say anything about me being a magus, right? Rein•Hagen Academy is a public institution, so mentioning it was okay. The fact that it's a recruiting ground for wizards is not public knowledge, and putting that in a press release would have gotten me Marched."
" 'Marched'?" TJ asked.
"Wizard March." Eric explained. "Basically, other wizards hunt you down and kill you on sight."
"That would be bad, yes." she nodded.
"So doing a Perdo Vim on a ghost in public where people could see it? Not helpful. As long as I can keep the Order and magic out of my day job as much as I can, we should be fine."
The Jones Beach Sedgewick
By request of Bassett, the Ghostbusters had entered the Hotel as quietly as they could, in civilian clothes and posing as vacationers. They even "checked out" two rooms near that of the missing Kay Johnson.
"Sooo...how's this pair up going?" Marie said leadingly.
"Howsabout..." John said, rolling his eyes. "Boys in one room, girls in the other?"
Marie huffed, then shrugged. "Well, if we must..." She then grabbed TJ and kissed her on the cheek. "I guess I can work with that."
TJ pushed her away forcefully, making nothing but an exasperated noise. Eric grinned evilly. "Now there's an image I'll linger on for a while."
"You just stay on your side of the room too." John said simply.
"You two are both so uptight." Eric chuckled.
"First things first." Bassett said, harrumphing, pretending he wasn't hearing any of this conversation. "I would think you want to take a look at Miss Johnson's room?"
As TJ talked with the hotel security man and the detective assigned to the case, the other three Ghostbusters entered the bathroom.
"Ambient PKE is almost nil." John said, studying his GBX. "It probably wasn't a high-level manifestation."
"High enough to kidnap a guest in the shower." Eric pointed out.
"You don't have to have a fifty Twinkie PKE reading to pull that off." John noted.
Marie was looking at the blue goo all over the place, and pulled on a rubber glove with malicious glee. "Sample time!"
"The slime, Marie. The slime." Eric quipped. Marie acted crestfallen.
TJ entered the bathroom, looking through some of the paperwork the officer had given her. "Miss Johnson was here on vacation; had only checked in an hour or so before. The porter outside heard a scream, some hideous laughter, and when security arrived, they found the room unoccupied. The shower was still running, this odd blue substance was all over the place, and Miss Johnson was gone. There was no sign of entry, forced or otherwise, and she was traveling alone."
Eric picked up an empty shampoo bottle. " 'Sedgewick Special'...they got their own label?"
"Probably some cheap shit they charge an assload for." Marie joked.
"What is the next move, Doctor Spengler?" TJ asked.
John rubbed his chin. "Logically, Inspector Anderson, we take what we know about the incident and attempt to replicate it. It's all we have-the PKE readings are too low for there to have been a dimensional crossrip here, and what's left is too dispersed to tell us much else." He took the Petri dish Marie handed him. "We do have a sample of the ectoplasmic residue, but finding out much will take a full examination at the lab."
" 'Replicate' the incident?" TJ raised an eyebrow.
Marie's face lit up. "So who gets to jump in the shower first? Or are we all going at once?"
Fifteen Minutes Later
TJ set the GBX where it could easily be seen. Being waterproof, there would be no problem with having it sit on the shower rack; under the circumstances, she definitely wanted to know the second it blipped even half a GEV.
"Well, first and most obvious of all, Miss Johnson was female, which would rule out Eric and me. Caucasian, mid twenties, dark hair." John blushed and looked away from her, clearly embarrassed at the thought.
"You are not suggesting what I think you're suggesting!" TJ felt her own cheeks flushing
"Look, you go first, and if nothing happens, I'm next." Marie shrugged. "I'm not happy either, but Johnny's right-you look to be closer to the same 'type' as the victim." She then leaned over and whispered into TJ's ear. "And just think how big a woody he's gonna get from it."
She grumbled, sighed, and nodded in defeat.
Leaving the door unlocked wasn't something she liked doing...even for a sting. Certainly, back in Scotland Yard, she never had to strip naked and take a shower with two horny men (and a horny woman she sometimes wondered about) only one unlocked door away.
She sighed, and said aloud. "All right...time to start this..." The towel covering her otherwise nude body fell with a sigh.
"All right...time to start this" A few seconds later, the sounds of the water running came over the GBX.
"You know the drill..." Marie reminded them. "If something happens, like a break in the signal, I go first. Just in case it's a false alarm."
John didn't seem to hear her.
Despite it all, it was a very pleasant shower. The water was the perfect temperature, and the soap had a more pleasant consistency than the cheap kinds a Scotland Yard or GBI salary could usually afford.
She looked at the GBX. It was carrying audio feed only, obviously, as TJ had no desire to become a Daily Motion sensation. She found herself wondering what the sounds were doing to those on the other side...she could imagine John Spengler sitting there watching his GBX intently.
She would never admit it out loud, but she actually liked that thought.
If this doesn't work, perhaps we should stick him in the shower tomorrow.
She would deny even more vigorously that she liked that thought even more.
Johnathan Christopher Spengler naked, wet, and soapy...right here with me right now...
And she would do little short of kill someone before admitting she liked that thought most of all.
In her distraction, she bumped the soap dish, and it hit the floor with a loud splash.
"TJ?" Marie's voice called from the GBX.
"I dropped the soap. I just have to pick it up..."
She heard a thump, and the sound of Marie and Eric's laughter.
"You all right?" Eric asked.
"I'm fine..." John sputtered. "I just fell off the bed."
Marie rolled her eyes. "Yeah...that large, flat, stationary object is so easy to fall off of."
TJ regarded the Sedgewick-provided shampoo. Normal hair formulation...and mine is rather oily. Thankfully, I brought my own...
She knew she shouldn't be doing this, and would probably pay (and pay dearly) for it later, but she couldn't help herself. As she rubbed the shampoo into her hair, she started to sing...
"Oh I wish I were a little bar of soap..."
"Wow." Marie admitted. "She's been holding out on us-she never told us she had a singing voice."
"You okay, JC?" Eric asked. "You're practically hyperventilating..."
"I'm fine." John answered brusquely.
"Maybe you'd better get up and get some air." Marie suggested disingenuously.
"I'm. Fine." John repeated.
A few minutes later, the door to the second room opened. TJ entered, wearing a bath robe and a towel around her hair. "Well?"
"Nothing." John squeaked, not looking at her.
Marie and Eric were stifling back laughter. They were only barely succeeding.
"What?" TJ asked.
" 'Oh, I'm sorry, I dropped the soap, I'll just have lean my wet, naked bum down there and pick it up!' " Marie said, in a (very bad) imitation of a certain upper middle class London accent.
"Piss off." TJ snorted. "I was nervous about this whole stupid situation!"
"Riight." Eric chuckled.
In the bathroom TJ had just left, steam still lingered in the air.
The unused bottle of "Sedgewick Special" shampoo sat in the shower caddy. The blue shampoo within started to swirl around...a pair of eyes appeared, blinked, and looked around the now empty bathroom.
"Nuts" a voice said quietly. "That chick was awesome."
The shampoo swirled again, and the eyes were gone.
"Huh?" John blinked.
"What?" TJ asked.
"I just saw a blip." John replied. "It only lasted for a second, but..."
Twenty seconds later, John and Marie were in the shower area, Marie brandishing a proton rail gun. "I'm not seeing anything."
"Neither am I." John shook his head. "The local PK valence is a couple of GEVs higher than the initial reading, but not enough to be certain it means anything."
Marie, now feeling a bit assured that a monster wasn't about to attack them, had to pick just a little. "Wouldn't you have rather been in this room about, say, ten minutes ago?"
"Drop dead." John snorted.
Marie lowered her gun, but her eyes narrowed. "You notice something?" She pointed to the "Sedgewick Special" shampoo bottle. "That shit is about the exact same shade of blue as the ectoplasm all over the crime scene."
John raised an eyebrow. "You're right." He walked over to it, scanning it with the GBX.
"Hey, TJ..." Marie asked into her own GBX. "You didn't use the hotel shampoo, did you?"
"What?" TJ asked, confused. "No. It's normal formulation-I have oily hair. I used my own."
"There is an elevated reading..." John noted. "But again, nothing conclusive." He grabbed the bottle with a gloved hand. "But you're right that this does bear investigation. We'll take this back to GBCentral, subject it to a full deep scan, and compare it to the ectoplasm from the event site."
"Heh." Marie quipped. "Hear that? Your oily hair may have just saved you." With that, Marie began to croon "Oh I wish I were a little bar of soap..."
To Be Continued
Ectozone Editorial Staff: Dr. Vincent Belmont, EGB Fan, TheRazorsEdge
Additional Beta: Ghostdiva, Kingpin, OgreBBQ, Brian Reilly
Legal Stuff that's Boring Unless You're Louis Tully...
Ghostbusters is©1984 Columbia Pictures. Ghostbusters 2 is ©1989 Columbia Pictures The Real Ghostbusters is ©1986 Columbia Pictures Television and DiC Productions. Extreme Ghostbusters is ©1997 Columbia Pictures Television and Adelaide Productions. The 88MPH comic book is © 2004 Sony and 88MPH Studios. Ghostbusters: The Return is © 2004 Sony and iBooks. Ghostbusters by IDW ﾩ2008-Present Sony and IDW. Ghostbusters: Ghost Busted ﾩ 2008 Sony and TokyoPop. Ghostbusters: The Video Game ﾩ2009-2011 Sony and Atari. No use of characters and images associated with the above is intended for profit, or to challenge the copyrights of the above holders.
Eric Stantz and Marie Lupin created by OgreBBQ. Johnathan and Eden Spengler, TJ Anderson, and Jeremy Cranston created by Fritz Baugh.
The title "Ghosts Can't Do It" comes from one of Bo Derek's trashy softcore porn movies. It seemed oddly appropriate...
Lloyd Bassett inspired by a character created by Floyd Gottfredson.
Ars Magica and the Order of Hermes created by Johnathan Tweet and Mark ReinﾕHagen; previously owned by Lion Rampant and White Wolf Games, now owned by Atlas Games.